Nothing is real.
When I was a costume dresser I used to have a cig break with the Phantom of the Opera. He’d be there with his gruesome prosthetics and his chirpy persona (bit like that moment in An American Werewolf In London when Jack goes ‘hi David!’). During these stage door encounters I used to think, this is so much more interesting than watching the show.
That’s what you get with Jamie Shovlin’s Rough Cut – lots of splices of skewed aesthetics; snapshots of the more interesting moments an audience doesn’t usually see. Rough Cut is about the making of an exploitation inspired remake of the horror film Hiker Meat. But the original film doesn’t really exist. And as the team says, you wouldn’t want to watch it anyway. Nothing is really going to happen apart from the slog of setting up shots along with the soundtrack orchestration and the special effects, prop-making and general fussing that happens around making a film. Everyone’s roles are unfulfilled – there will be no directing or musical score, no redrafting and perfecting the script and the action. The editing of Rough Cut is the only sure concrete finish to anything. The creator Shovlin and the team struggle to define Rough Cut. But I often think definition is a ‘how should we fuck off oh lord?’ concept we can do without when it comes to entertainment. We don’t need to know what it is; it’s a film. It’s more plausible than Inception any road.
In order to present conversations that hark back to a nostalgia of exploitation films there is sometimes a split screen to show how the scenes would appear in Hiker Meat (the remake of the non-film). Now this aspect – the presenting of scenes in a horror movie – was the most interesting part for me. I could look around this room now and if there was a dark filter and a soundtrack of imminent doom then I would be in a horror, just like that.
For me, what happens with Rough Cut for me is that film – as a genre and as a multi-career opportunity for a team of people – is conceptualised, and this has exposed the fleeting pointlessness and lengths people go to in order to give someone something to chew popcorn over.
I wish people would laugh more at the Cornerhouse because when I am laughing my head off at the intricacy and detail and crafting of a big scary worm (that will never actually play any role in the film) I feel like I am messing around in class. So when you go, and you should go watch it, then laugh if you feel like it, don’t chin-scratch.
Review by Cathy Crabb
Where: Cornerhouse, Manchester
More info: check the website for show times www.cornerhouse.org